Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hockey makes program history with victory over UConn

Minutemen establish longest winning streak in program history with nine straight wins
(Caroline O’Connor/UMass Athletics)

The Massachusetts hockey team made program history Friday night.

With a 7-4 win over Connecticut (5-8-1, 2-6-1 Hockey East Association), the No. 3 Minutemen (12-1-0, 7-0-0 HEA) secured their ninth consecutive victory to surpass the record for the longest winning streak in program history.

The largest crowd since 2012 came out to the Mullins Center, bringing in 7,124 fans as UMass extended its undefeated streak in Hockey East play, as well.

After the Huskies evened the score at three just 34 seconds into the third period, Mitchell Chaffee battled far in the left corner before sending the eventual game-winner five-hole through UConn netminder Adam Huska to lift the Minutemen 4-3.

Jacob Pritchard banged home an insurance tally off a nice feed from John Leonard who got the play rolling with a steal from the blue line before Bobby Trivigno capitalized on a penalty shot to take a hefty 6-3 lead.

Huskie forward Kale Howarth logged his second of the night in a comeback attempt at the 16:25 mark in the third period before Niko Hildenbrand batted home his first goal of the season into the empty net to cap the scoring for the night.

Chaffee led UMass with a career-high four points (two goals, two assists) while Trivigno registered two goals. Pritchard, Hildenbrand and Marc Del Gaizo chipped in with a goal each while Mario Ferraro and Cale Makar also assisted on two tallies each.

“Another win–I never worry about the offense of our team, we have a lot of gifted offensive players,” coach Greg Carvel said. “Our play without the puck was inconsistent, I thought UConn did a real good job–their game plan, did a good job of preventing us from being effective on the cycle.”

The Minutemen struck first 1:34 into the first period on an odd-man rush that ended with Trivigno finding the back of the net for his third tally of the season. But UConn battled hard for the rest of the period managing to register goals from Howarth and Wyatt Newpower roughly three minutes apart to take a 2-1 lead into the middle frame.

Just over five minutes into the second, Marc Del Gaizo put the puck through his legs and then into the top right shelf of the net for his fifth goal of the season, knotting the game at two. At the 14:29 mark, the Minutemen capitalized on their third man-advantage opportunity of the night to take the lead 3-2.

The Huskies evened the score at three off their opening power play in the third from an Anthony Del Gaizo roughing penalty called at the end of the second, on a goal from Karl El-Mir. The senior redirected a hard pass past Matt Murray for his eighth goal of the season.

“They did a good job of getting pucks to the net and bodies to the net,” Carvel said of UConn, “A little bit of adversity, [we] take a bad penalty at the end of the second period and they tie the game up pretty quickly, so we had to see what we were made of in a different way.

“Some gifted players elevated and helped us get the lead, obviously we score seven goals, we’re a very good offensive team,” Carvel added, “but we need to be a better defensive team if we want to be the best we can be.”

Carvel critiqued the Minutemen’s puck decisions despite the victory, noting how the team has to find the right balance between knowing when to make creative plays and when to just “grind the game” out. He considers that to be an area he hopes to see UMass mature on as a team.

Murray registered 29 saves between the pipes and improved to 9-0-0 on the season while Huska turned aside 31.

UMass faces a home-and-home series against No. 9 Quinnipiac next weekend.

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MWalker2019.

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